At the time of the tragic collapse of the I-35W Mississippi River bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in early August this summer, I had been considering doing a blog post about bridges since I had received pictures of several really unusual bridges in the days that preceded that disaster. After the disaster, I thought it best to wait a while. I hope enough time has gone by that my post on bridges will not cause undue discomfort. I've learned, though, that there are some people for whom the thought of bridges will *always* be uncomfortable, and some ever suffer from gephydrophobia, the fear of crossing bridges.
Today I'm going to share pictures and information about five interesting, real bridges. These are not hoaxes - I've checked them out on snopes.com
I'll start out with the oldest of the bridges featured in this post - the famous Y Bridge in Zanesville, Ohio. It's a Y-shaped bridge that spans the confluence of the Licking and Muskingum Rivers. It has been rebuilt numerous times since the 1850s and is currently the only Y bridge in the world. It is also the only bridge in the United States that you can cross and still be on the same side of the river that you started on! When being given directions, visitors are often struck by the oddity of the statement "Drive to the middle of the bridge and turn right." Amelia Earhart called Zanesville "the most recognizable city in the country," referring to the Y Bridge’s usefulness as a navigational aid to pilots.
Below is a picture of the Y Bridge...
Here's an aerial view from an old post card...
The next bridge, also in the USA, is the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel. It is a 4.6 miles long, four-lane bridge-tunnel composed of bridges, trestles, man-made islands, and tunnels where the James, Nansemond, and Elizabeth Rivers come together in the southeastern Virginia. It connects the cities of Newport News and Suffolk.
The next bridge is in Magdeburg, Germany. The Magdeburg Water Bridge or Wasserstrassenkreuz in German, completed in October 2003, connects two important German shipping canals, the Elbe-Havel Canal and the Mittellandkanal, which lead to the country’s industrial Ruhr Valley heartland. It actually crosses the Elbe River! The overall length is 3,012 feet (918 meters), of which 2,264 feet (690 meters) are over land and 748 feet (228 meters) are over water. This amazing piece of German engineering was first conceived in 1919 and construction began in the 1930s, but the completion was impossible until after the German Reunification in the early 1990s.
Here's a view from underneath....
The next bridge, another marvel in engineering, is located in southern France. The Millau Viaduct or Viaduc de Millau in French is a large cable-stayed road-bridge that spans the valley of the River Tarn. Designed by English architect Norman Foster and French bridge engineer Michel Virlogeux, it is the tallest vehicular bridge in the world, with one mast's summit at 1,125 feet (343 meters) - slightly taller than the Eiffel Tower and only 125 feet (38 meters) shorter than the Empire State Building. The viaduct is part of the A75-A71 autoroute axis from Paris to Béziers. It was formally dedicated on 14 December 2004.
Below is a picture when the bridge was under construction....
Below is an aerial view after completion....
The next bridge is a "pedestrian bridge" displayed at the London Design Festival. It is actually more a novelty than an actual bridge in use. Bridge by Michael Cross is a series of steps that rise out of the water as you walk across them, as if walking on water. On entering the exhibition the visitor is met by an empty expanse of water with one step at its edge. Stepping on the first step causes the next step to rise, and so on. Below are pictures from two different angles with two different "pedestrians." This puts new meaning into the expression "taking life one step at a time."
If you know of another interesting/ususual/bizarre bridge, feel free to post a link in the comments at the end of this blog post.
Thinking about bridges reminded me of a poem that Dr. Bob Jones Sr. used to love to quote to tell in part why he founded BJU. Each of us needs to be a bridge builder in life - this poem is a good reminder.
The Bridge Builder
by Will Allen Dromgoole
An old man travelling a lonely highway
Came at the evening cold and gray
To a chasm deep and wide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim
For the sullen stream had no fears for him
But he turned when he reached the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.
Old man, cried a fellow pilgrim near
You are wasting your strength in building here.
Your journey will end with the ending day
And you will never again pass this way.
You have crossed the chasm deep and wide.
Why build you a bridge at eventide?
And the builder raised his old gray head
Good friend on the path I have come, he said
There follows after me today
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This stream which has been as naught to me
To that fair haired boy may a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him.
A final twist to this already unusual blog post is the fact that the author of The Bridge Builder, Will Allen Dromgoole, was a woman. She was named Poet Laureate by the Poetry Society of the South in 1930.
"The best bridge between hope and despair is often a good night’s sleep." - anonymous
I don't suffer from gephydrophobia, but I do suffer from xylophataquieopiaphobia, the fear of not pronouncing words correctly.